Gunpowder tea is an unusual tea that supposedly gets its name from the rolled shape of the leaves. Apparently, to someone somewhere, they resembled gunpowder pellets enough that the name stuck. The leaves get their shape from hand rolling, a process that must be incredibly laborious and tedious. The painstakingly rolled leaves unfurl as the tea brews, and you can see they're actually quite long, making the labor process that much more impressive.
Gunpowder green is a fairly famous Chinese tea, and in my experience, largely deserving of its reputation. This particular tea is another loose leaf purchase from Special Teas, and is 100% organic tea from China. I made this in my stopgap teapot, 1 flat teaspoon to the cup (or about 1 rounded teaspoon to the 10 oz. mug), and brewed in steaming but not boiling water for about 2 1/2 minutes. The water temp is important; green tea in full on boiling water is flat, bitter, and astringent...in short, nasty. I either a) boil the water until it's steaming briskly but not bubbling, or b) bring it to a full boil, take it off the heat, and let it sit for a full minute. As with all greens and whites, sweetener (or God forbid milk) would annihilate the delicate flavors.
The taste is excellent, with just a hint of natural sweetness and vegetation...a very balanced flavor profile. The feel on the mouth is quite smooth, and leaves a mild and short aftertaste. There's nothing really unique here, no grassy or earthy notes that I've found in some greens, just an elegant slightly sweet flavor, and not a hint of the harsh astringency that comes across in cheap green tea. This is a great relaxation tea...even this morning, with a million things going on, it made me stop for a few minutes and enjoy.
Score: B+ (nothing unique, but a high quality, ubiquitous green. Very relaxing!)